Tuesday, May 22, 2012

E-catalogue 24: By the Waters

Whether it's fly-fishing at the lake, or sailing on the open ocean, water figures very largely in our summer activities; that it makes up most of the earth's surface and the human body means that it is a central element in our lives. It is only natural, then, that water should also be a major symbol in literature, and we can see this from the Old Testament to Moby Dick. For our latest e-catalogue, we have therefore pulled together a surprisingly diverse group of books in which water plays a thematic role.

In some cases, the book strives for a visual interpretation of water, as is the case with Sylvia Rennie's designer binding for Arthur Rimbaud's Le Bateau Ivre, in which she creates a sculptural rendering of undulating waves on the upper cover. For Hemingway, it was the central metaphor for an indifferent nature against which humanity struggles in his compact, powerful novel, The Old Man and the Sea.

Moving past the larger symbolic representations, there are glimpses here of the ways in which people have earned a living on the back of the sea. Several items relate to whaling, including a 19th-century "slops" book from a New Bedford whaling vessel, and a finely-printed history of whaling in Japan. There are also reminders here that water can be territory that must occasionally be defended, as demonstrated by the illustrated manuscript logbooks of a gunner's mate aboard the USS Richmond during World War II, or in the miniature Pocket History of the American Navy and Naval Commanders.

A common thread tying the nearly thirty items on offer together is that the human imagination has derived much inspiration from the water that surrounds us. We hope you will find something here that inspires.

No comments:

Post a Comment